Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Inky fingers...

Monotypes at the Artists Workhouse, Studley, Worcestershire
On Saturday last I completed the last of 4 printmaking workshops that I have delivered at the Artists Workhouse in Studley from October 2017 to now. This one was in more ‘experimental approaches’, and the others had been in mono-printing, relief printmaking and drypoint etching.
Experimenting with cut and torn paper
It was really enjoyable on Saturday as the participants, as in all of them really, just seem to run with the various processes, techniques and materials once I have demoed them. They particularly enjoyed this week a printmaking technique using cut out and torn paper shapes which you can have endless experimental fun with, and is more akin to the manipulation of materials in painting, which is why I enjoy it. I enjoy it, but don’t do enough with it myself and I should. 

Over the last few months in the course of planning these workshops, despite teaching printmaking in college for many years it has been a bit ad hoc at times, so I have really swotted up and invested in and investigated quite a lot of different materials and techniques to feel a bit more robustly prepared for the adult learner, often fellow artists, who can want that much more from a session than the average college student.  And they have gone well, and I’ve learned a lot, and am now keen to put aside the painting for a few months and make some new prints of my own.
Gyotaku Printing
One of the techniques I tried in my studio was the Japanese printmaking method known as Gyotaku, where a print is actually taken from a dead fish. Sounds strange but it is actually really popular once you look into it, and apparently dates back centuries to a tradition Japanese fisherman had of making a record of their catch. The fish is inked up with a non- toxic Sumi ink and a print is carefully lifted from it by placing rice paper over it and caressing it with your fingers to pick up as much detail as possible.
I had toyed with doing it in one of the workshops, but then didn’t. I felt I needed much more practise at it myself, plus I was unsure about the various practical and ethical issues about using dead fish as a tool like this. Here’s my rather feeble intent from a John Dory from one of Birmingham's amazing  fish stalls in the indoor market. The idea is that after this first impression is taken, the artist renders into it and develops the detail, texture and colour. I like it looking more raw though. Like sushi… There's got to be a market with anglers with this.  
'A Home in England', oil on canvas, 40 x 55cms, 2017
I also heard this weekend that I have had one of my rough sleeper paintings accepted into an exhibition, ‘Something Called Home’, at an artist-run gallery in King Street Studios in Lancaster. I’m really pleased to be exhibiting out of the region for the first time in ages, having seen the opportunity to apply on the online site for artists which calls out for submissions and opportunites that is ‘Curatorspace’. I’ve applied for several things on there in the last year or so but this is the first time my work has been accepted in anything.